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When I took office in 2012, I was determined to promote a society in which all women had a chance to shine. Indeed, Japan cannot truly thrive in the 21st century unless all our citizens reach their fullest potential.

The distance we have to travel to meet that goal is captured in one statistic: Although the percentage of Japanese women completing higher education exceeds that of most other developed countries, their rate of participation in the labor force is low. For those women who joined the workforce, too many had to leave once they got married or had children. What a terrible loss of talent. However, this also means Japan has enormous growth potential, still to be tapped.

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